WASHINGTON — The man who shot President Ronald Reagan in 1981 has behaved well over the past year when he's been freed from a Washington mental hospital to visit his mother in Virginia, according to U.S. Secret Service reports.
Agents trailed John Hinckley on more than 35 days during 2012 when he visited his mother's home in Williamsburg. Surveillance logs show he shopped at PetSmart, Target and the grocery store Harris Teeter.
He also did volunteer work, visited an art museum on the campus of the College of William and Mary and made planned therapy visits. The logs were part of more than a 150 pages of documents filed Wednesday as part of a court case where Hinckley is asking a judge to let him spend more time at his mother's home.
The mundaneness of the activities made public Wednesday contrasts with a log released last year that got Hinckley into trouble.
It showed him visiting a Barnes & Noble in late 2011. There, an agent saw him looking at what appeared to be a row of books including one on the assassination of President William McKinley and another on the killing of President John F. Kennedy. Prosecutors used that information in part to say he shouldn't be given expanded time outside the hospital. This time, the logs repeatedly conclude: "No unusual incidents pertaining to the subject were observed during this surveillance."
Hinckley, 57, has been allowed to go to mother's home since 2006, and the length of his visits has increased over time. Saint Elizabeths Hospital is the mental hospital that has overseen his care since he was found to be insane at the time he shot Reagan. It says Hinckley's current 10-day visits with his mother should be increased to up to 24 days. Ultimately, officials want Hinckley to live outside the hospital full time. Officials and Hinckley's lawyer have said he is no longer dangerous and his mental illness is under control.
A hearing on expanding Hinckley's visits was held in late 2011 and early 2012. It continued for three days in February this year after the plan for Hinckley's time away had to be modified.
The documents made public Wednesday show the Secret Service trailed Hinckley during eight visits to his mother's home. The days are random, according to the Secret Service documents, but show patterns.
When Hinckley goes for a visit he leaves Saint Elizabeths on Saturdays around 10:30 a.m., getting picked up by his mother and a hired driver, often in a black Lincoln town car. While at her home he volunteers for four hours on some mornings at Eastern State Hospital doing food service work. Before returning to Saint Elizabeths he gets diet Coke and cat food, sometimes as many as 14 cases of canned food, to feed cats that live on the hospital's grounds. And on his way back to the hospital, he's been a customer at a Wendy's in Fredericksburg more than once. Another document filed with the court shows him starting music therapy and painting lessons while in Williamsburg.
U.S. District Court Judge Paul L. Friedman will ultimately decide whether to expand Hinckley's release privileges. He has not said when he will rule.
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